ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Entering Week 18, all the Buffalo Bills needed to clinch a second straight AFC East title was a win against the 4-12 New York Jets. Despite the Jets keeping things close at times due to Buffalo’s offensive struggles, the Bills got the job done with a 27-10 victory to win the division at home for the first time since 1995.
The back-to-back division titles are a first for the franchise since they won four straight from 1988-1991. The Bills will enter the AFC playoffs as the No. 3 seed and will host a playoff game in the Wild Card round next week. Buffalo is 2-0 in home playoff games under coach Sean McDermott, who has led Buffalo to the playoffs in three straight seasons.
The Bills go into the playoffs on a four-game winning streak, tying their season-best.
With the New England Patriots’ 27-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Bills’ opponent is still to be determined. If the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Oakland Raiders on Sunday night, the Chargers will play the Bills. A Raiders win would mean Buffalo and New England meet for the third time this season and first time in the playoffs in the Super Bowl era.
The Bills got off to a hot start against the Jets, putting together a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with an impressive 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Allen to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, despite Allen being under significant pressure.
The throw was Allen’s his twelfth touchdown of the season on the run (traveling 8-plus mph), most in the NFL this season, per Next Gen Stats, and had a completion probability of 18%, the lowest completion probability on a Bills touchdown since 2017.
After consecutive scoring drives in the first quarter, the Bills offense struggled. There were miscommunications between Allen and his receivers and the unit looked out of sync. Special teams also wavered. Punter Matt Haack averaged 33.9 yards per punt on seven kicks, although one only traveled seven yards partially due to a bad snap.
But the defense kept the Bills in the game, sacking rookie quarterback Zach Wilson eight times (most under McDermott) and allowing the Jets to convert just one of 12 third downs. Buffalo has five sacks in back-to-back games, which hasn’t happened since 2014 (three straight games) and their most sacks in a game since 2011.
While there will be plenty to clean up for the playoffs, there are some positive for Buffalo coming off the win.
Not only is the Bills’ pass rush in better shape headed into the postseason, but the rushing attack has improved, partially thanks to improved play from the Bills offensive line. Running back Devin Singletary became the first Bills player with four straight games with at least one rushing touchdown since Fred Jackson (2011), per ESPN Stats & Info. Singletary has five rushing touchdowns in his last four games after scoring six rushing touchdowns in his first 41 career games.
Allen has also been kept upright, going three straight games without a sack, a first in his career.
But the Bills’ goals lie far beyond making a postseason appearance and winning the division. The big test is still to come.